What if Your Operating System was an Anime Girl?

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Misc - Friday, September 14th, 2007

And yes, before I get corrected, I know it’s “manga” if it’s a still image and “anime” if it’s a movie. But not everybody knows that yet, so I have to make the headline click-friendly. Onward:

Meet the OS-Tans. An OS-Tan is a cartoon representation of an operating system as a young female mascot. OS-Tans even get their own Wiki. These can be respectable or racy – so watch out for Not-Safe-For-Work images in these links, OK?

But regardless of the depiction, the art form always uses consistent rules to show the character of the system in human form. The various Windows systems are depicted as sisters. The breast size actually correlates to memory usage. User-friendly systems are depicted as cuter or more beautiful, while “geeky” or hacker-friendly systems are shown with glasses or a tool-belt. A system with greater security might show her armed with a spear or decked out in combat armor. A background system (like MS-DOS lurking behind Windows) is depicted as shy and peeking around a corner, and so on.

The trend started in Asian culture, but Western culture is developing an equivalent: the famous “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC.” TV ads have spawned a whole host of Internet parodies. Here‘s the most complete one I’ve seen so far. These are done with typical Western irreverence, but that’s what you get when an Eastern art form migrates!

Of course, the Linux fans have jumped all over this one. Here is probably the best gallery of Linux OS-Tans, and they’re available in wallpaper form! Note that even though each Linux system is different, all of them are represented wearing a Penguin-bill shaped helmet. Check out the hip-hop world-beat vibe on Ubuntu-tan:


Just how detailed can these get? Well, the “Windows Neptune” one… what, you’ve never heard of it? That’s because “Neptune” was dropped before it was released, in favor of Windows ME. And the Windows Neptune OS-Tan reflects that: she’s wearing a Shinto O-fuda demon-protection charm to keep her banished from the real world!

So what about other kinds of software? Yes, there’s Tans for that too: Here’s a whole gallery of Firefox ones. In fact, at the bottom of this link, we have tans for everything from websites to malware! Here’s Slashdot-Tan as an avatar:


By the way, they also come in male characters (called “OS-Kuns”), but they don’t seem as popular. Like ships, it seems to be a worldwide custom to refer to software as female, at least as far as this subculture goes. A few small stabs have been made at illustrating programming languages as people, too.

Now, wasn’t that fascinating?

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2 Responses to “What if Your Operating System was an Anime Girl?”

  1. NTICompass Says:

    Not to be mean, but this is old news. The OS-Tans have been around for a while 😛

  2. Kari Says:

    the os-tans premiered on futaba in august 03′, starting with ME-tan. someone there got the idea of “this os is so troublesome, what if it were a cute, troublesome girl?”, and the rest is history.

    the link to the wiki you provided has a cooresponding website, ostan-collections. (google it if you can’t find it through the wiki.) i’ve been a member there for years, and we’re helping to keep this meme alive. ^^ we’ve also standardized the image for some OSes, and made original ones(usually cooresponding to vintage OSes). feel free to pay us a visit ^^

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